Happy April Fools day! We are going to have fun with bad leadership quotes today. Don’t be fooled by these commonly shared quotes.
“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.” – Steve Jobs
This could be said another way. “Have no empathy with others. Push people hard.” As much as Steve did to build, and later rebuild a great organization, this quote lacks one of the key philosophies in making a great leader.
We’ve talked about empathy at length over the years. Empathy doesn’t equate to weakness. Having great empathy means that you fully understand the position of the other person and you take that into account in your decision making. You greatly increase someone’s potential by understanding whether they are coming from and what motivates them in order to give them the practical steps to success.
“Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.” – Warren Bennis
The classic, ____X_____ is this and ______Y________ is the the opposite. It’s a favorite on Linkedin and quite easy to use the formula to crank out generic quotes.
Managers are about themselves. Leaders are about others. Managers think about today. Leaders think about tomorrow. Managers talk. Leaders take action. Managers know it all. Leaders are constant learners.
As good as they look on the surface, these quotes are often not totally true. A great leader does the right thing and does things right in the first place. It’s not always as easy this or that with leadership.
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George S. Patton
I can tell you people live by this quote! It’s also the root issue that brings me the most consulting business.
This basically says, instruct someone on what to do without giving them direction or the tools to be successful and stand in wonder at the results that you were not expecting. The go-to version of this in my realm is this:
“You need to develop _(Insert underperforming person here.)__”
Six weeks later the boss is upset because nothing has changed and you are frustrated and bewildered because you didn’t know how to change the person’s behavior. Make sure you give your team clear expectations on what the goal is and the resources to get there. Once those are established give them the freedom to create and then be surprised by the results.
“A man’s gotta make at least one bet a day, else he could be walking around lucky and never know It.” -Jim Jones
So this one seems fairly inspirational until you realize that Jim Jones was the cult leader that force-feed poisoned Kool-Aid to his followers and led over 900 in an infamous mass suicide event in the late ’70s.
Do your best to fall into the trap of groupthink where no one is brave enough to voice their opinion or perspective.
Don’t be fooled by bad leadership quotes and don’t drink the Kool-Aid.
People rely on each other to make it through life and It often falls down to a close circle of friends and family. Some people aren’t as fortunate to have a strong inner circle and as a result, they isolate themselves, their mental and physical health deteriorates and they will never reach their fullest potential.
When I say Be the Why, I mean for you to be someone else’s why. “You are the reason I made it through all of this.” “I would follow you anywhere.” “You kept me from making some really bad decisions.”
Be a relationship builder
Strong relationships can be taken for granted or undervalued. One of the top reasons great people stay in awful jobs is because of the relationships that they have built with their peers. They are willing to endure stress and dissatisfaction in order to keep relationships that are important to them alive.
Be the Why for someone by building a strong and edifying relationship that adds true value to the other person. When someone feels like you have impacted their life and care for them, they will do just about anything for you. Listen to the person’s troubles and fill in their blind spots for them. Take time with them; time is more valuable than money itself in most cases.
People are creatures of habit and highly value consistency. Oddly enough, consistency is also hard to come by in human interactions. Rooted in poor planning and prioritization and made worse by modern-day distractions, being consistent can be more elusive than it has to be.
Be the Why for someone by being consistent. Be careful of the things that you say you’ll do or promise and then always come through on those things that you do. Just being consistent in a few small things with someone will go along way. Every time I play music with a guy in town, he texts me afterward to thank me. In five years, he has never not texted me! It’s not a monumental deal for him to do, but it has added a lot to our friendship. I know he appreciates me and I feel valued and as a result, I’ve gone out of my way at times to play just because he’s going to be there. (More to this story can be found at PTB# 107: Finding Leadership in Music)
Be the Why by your willingness to sacrifice things that are important to you for the sake fo the other person. It’s important to have a sense of what the other person feels is a sacrifice so that there is not any unneeded tension. For example Let’s say I missed seeing my favorite band to help my daughter with a school project. She might not realize they were in town so she shows no appreciation for the gesture. I’m then upset because I feel like she doesn’t value what I gave up to help her. On the other hand, My co-worker is over the top grateful because I gave up my lunch to help them on a project when lunches really aren’t that important to me.
Understand that sometimes people will over and undervalue the sacrifices that you make for them. Prepare yourself mentally for both of those occasions. Don’t let the misunderstanding of the amount of sacrifice impact your willingness to continue to sacrifice things for them.
Someone out there likely needs you to be the Why for them. Look at those around you. Build them up through strengthening the relationship and being the most consistent person they know. Sacrifice what you need to in order for others to be successful. Being the Why for someone can change, and even save, a life.
A few months ago I was working on the set of Dynasty and as with any film set, there is a lot of downtime. A few of us were hanging out between shots and watched as giant industrial cranes worked on building projects across the road. One person commented on the fragility of such of a large piece of equipment and they were right. As large and strong as they are, everything depends on the counterweight for it to stay together.
Serving without a show
It’s likely that you haven’t even noticed the counterweight on these large cranes. (It’s the rectangle piece at the end of the crane in this week’s picture) That’s because it’s the one part that is not putting on a show. You notice these cranes pivoting over the skyline and lifting large objects from one place to another. The counterweight may be the most important piece, but it largely goes unrecognized.
When you are working hard at your job or helping someone else out, don’t do it for the glory or the credit. Do it because you can make an impact on others. It can be difficult to work hard on a project only for someone else to get all the credit for it. You may feel underappreciated, undervalued or left out. Keep at your best and reward yourself if you feel yourself falling into this situation. Enjoy some pampering, go out to your favorite restaurant, or take a trip. Be sure to keep your work or assistance at the high level you are known for.
Some people actually love to play this part of the counterweight role. They love to help and contribute but have no desire to be in the spotlight. If this is you be an encouragement to those around you that may struggle in this area.
The obvious function of the counterweight is to provide balance. Without it, the crane comes tumbling down as soon as it picks something up. Groupthink, where everyone constantly shares the same consensus, is dangerous for the team and business. Be brave and speak out when you feel a decision or action isn’t the best solution and support those that do the same.
My wife serves as my counterweight often. She balances out my decision making and helps me make sure that I am not overworked or overcommitted. Make sure you have someone in your life that is the counterweight for you and then be that for someone else as well.
The perfect amount of presence
The counterweight has to be weighted perfectly to be functional. If it’s too light the crane will tip over forward. If it’s too heavy, you’ve just created a version of a catapult.
Use your self-awareness skills to find that perfect balance and presence. Step in when needed to provide a missing perspective while avoiding being too forceful in the interaction. Understand your place on the team and project. If you are the counterweight, don’t try to make yourself in the cabin, the arm, or the hook. Continually analyze your contribution and interaction with others and make adjustments as needed.
The counterweight may not be the center of attention, but it plays a critical role in keeping everything together. Help without need for the spotlight, balance out those around you and
I thoroughly enjoyed archery when I was growing up. It was always exciting to pull the bowstring back, feel the strength manifest, and satisfaction that comes as the arrow left the bow and hit the target. It was also fun just to shoot some to see how far the arrow would go! The bow is both elegant and strong and it can teach us some things about our leadership walk.
Each bow has a unique fit and purpose
I most often shot a traditional recurve bow but also shot some primitive and compound bows as well. There are more varieties than you may realize. A primitive bow has a few as 5 parts and some of the more complicated compound bows have 23 parts. They also range in size from 54in to 72in. No matter the differences, they do the exact same thing; they get the arrow down range. Their uniqueness comes from the archer and the purpose of the shot.
My mentor once told me about great football coaches. They enjoy and foster a sense of uniqueness in their players as long as they are getting the ball down the field. Some players run it straight down the middle, and others are showier and run all over the place. Celebrate your uniqueness and don’t try to change yourself because you think that’s what others want. In the same sense celebrate the uniqueness of your teammates and co-workers. Despite what makes you different, you are working towards a common goal.
The tension and stress make things happen.
If the bow stayed straight, it would be useless. It’s power and use comes after it the bowstring is attached and curves the bow. If you ever have picked up or used a bow, you can feel the power at this point. The tension and strength almost begin to sing. If you see a bow, take a moment to run your hand across it and down the bowstring. You’ll feel its power.
Our life and leadership abilities are the same way. As much as people run away from stress and tension, there is such a thing as a healthy amount of stress and it does make us stronger people. Use those moments to rise up, and show your full potential.
Great shots are taken with time.
Despite what you see in Avengers as Hawkeye lets arrows fly nearly as fast as bullets, a great and true shot takes time…… but not too much time. You should control your breathing, steady your aim and let go. Taking too much time will wear out the strength in your arm.
You shouldn’t go through life like Hawkeye constantly firing off arrows everywhere. You’ll seldom hit what you are aiming at. Take a moment in those important moments to slow down, collect your thoughts (and perhaps your breathing) to make a wise and thoughtful decision.
Be the bow. Be confident in your unique purpose, maximize stress and tension for success and make sure your shots are purposeful and on target.
Horses are known for their strength and poise and have been a symbol of power for humans for centuries. The domestication of wild horses was essential in the migration of early man to spread across the globe as it allowed them to carry supplies and move across large distances.
Horses are very unique in the way they interact with each other and are finely tuned to their environment. Here are a few qualities that they possess that can help us in our own leadership and life walk.
They are very social
We were not made to live a life in isolation and neither are horses. They socialize with each other, express emotions and mourn the loss of a horse that was close to them. Cigna health ran a study on loneliness in Americans and found that 47% reported being lonely either sometimes or all the time.
Multiple studies show that the “social” in social media is not enough to fill that need in a person’s life. In fact if you spend more than two hours a day on social media sites you are twice as likely to experience social anxiety. If you find yourself running to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or ticktock all the time, get a game plan to moderate your habit. Begin to put activities in your life that don’t revolve around a phone. Go on a hike, take up a hobby, go to a party with friends, see a movie. Start small and reconnect with others.
They have keen instincts and act instantly
Much like rabbits (Be the Rabbit, EP #155), horses have a keen sense of their surroundings. They can see over 300 degrees and can “look” in two different directions at the same time. If their ears are up and turned away from the direction of their eyes, they are looking in two places at once. If they sense danger, they immediately act. There is no thinking, they are just moving as quickly as possible to avoid conflict.
We sometimes get paralysis by indecision in our leadership and life walk. While it’s good to have as much information as possible, it can also be harmful to wait it out. Trust your instincts and make the move necessary to keep yourself ahead of danger. Move, evaluate and then go from there.
They have leadership laws and work together.
Herds of horses usually have two leaders. The mare leads the heard, the stallion protects it. They generally don’t lay down at the same time when resting. One or more will keep watch as the others lay down first. Horses appreciate good structure in the group and each plays a part in contributing to the well being of the herd.
Structure is a good thing for your team. As simple as it sounds, a good team structure still eludes many groups at schools, work, and volunteer organizations. Establish a clear leader and support system and spell out what each person’s role and responsibility are to the group. Help those around you that are falling short instead of talking bad about them and letting them continue to fail. Have that courage to have those tough conversations when needed.
Horses’ lives depend on the power of their teamwork and leadership. Lead your team in the same way.
Be strong like the horse. Stay connected to others, trust your instincts and build great team-building skills.
No doubt you’ve come across at least one toxic person within your work environment, school or circle of friends. These people bring you down more than they lift you up. They can be verbally abusive, non-supportive and emotionally draining.
You may not be in a situation where you can remove yourself from interacting with the person so here are some tips on how to identify if a person is toxic and steps to handle this type of person.
Signs of toxic people
You may be involved with someone that is toxic and not even realize it because it’s subtle or you have grown accustomed to it.
You feel drained afterward an interaction. This can be emotionally, mentally or even physically depending on the person.
They never give a true compliment. Their “words of encouragement” are backhanded compliments, sarcasm or just plain rude.
They are very focused on themselves. They get jealous easily, resent others wins, see themselves as a victim and they have no interest in your personal life or what is important to you. They also rarely apologize because they don’t see themselves in the wrong.
They are forceful. Toxic people typically don’t respect boundaries, are aggressive with others to get what they want, and don’t take no for an answer. They can be relentless in their pursuit to fill their own need or want.
Getting your life back
The first thing to consider is possibly removing the person or yourself from the circumstances that put the two of you together. This could be difficult depending on the length and type of relationship involved. Include others like a counselor or mentor if needed to help you navigate the situation.
Here are some tips if you have to deal with a toxic person. Each step is going to require you to have a real and honest conversation with the person.
Build your self-awareness. Reflect on your relationship with the other person. Do you unknowingly support the behavior by giving in to demands or by giving them more attention then they need? There may be opportunities to make some adjustments here to begin pulling back the power of the relationship from the other person.
Establish boundaries. Think about how the toxic person breaks your trust, invades your personal space or time and set clear boundaries with the person. Be fair and to the point.
Be honest and give feedback. It’s okay to be assertive and to the point. “When you _____activity_____ I get/feel/become ____emotion_____. I need ________ going forward. I wanted you to know this because__________ (It impacts my work and I want to have a good relationship with you, I care about you, I want us both to do well, etc)
Hold them accountable and keep the power. Now that you have had that tough conversation, the situation will only improve with your commitment to keeping them accountable. Call them out matter of factly and keep emotions in check when they cross your establish boundaries. If they are especially needy, hold your response unless it’s convenient for you or absolutely necessary to solve a larger issue. An example fo this would be someone inundating you with texts. Turn off notifications and get back to them later.
A toxic person does not have to dominate and control your happiness and quality of life. Take time to identify if they are a truly toxic person, take stock in what’s important to you and how the relationship is holding you back. Find councel and follow these actionable steps to bring balance and boundaries in the relationship.